As an Early Learning Outreach Specialist with BLAST, I am constantly roaming the city, canvas tote bag slung over my shoulder, creating a miniature space to engage young children wherever I go. And while it’s certainly handy to have a bag of tricks along with me each time I read stories at a childcare center, I am actually quite jealous each time I pop in at a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) neighborhood location and go looking for books in the Children’s spaces.
Every CLP neighborhood location has a unique room or space designated to and designed specifically for young children. I’ve been traveling around, talking with the Children’s Specialists in those spaces, and figuring out what makes each space special.
My first destination was CLP – Squirrel Hill, which definitely has one of the larger spaces dedicated to children. There is a little reading nook up by the window, vertical stands for Duplo blocks, magnetic letters and felt boards, and drawers that contain plenty of vehicles, dinosaurs, and sensory toys.
I wanted to know what the Children’s Specialists at CLP – Squirrel Hill liked best about the space, and here was what they had to say:
Angela, Children’s and Teen Librarian
“Honestly, our collection. It is big and colorful. It isn’t as large as CLP – Main of course, but our books make me really happy and I think they make our customers happy too. We also have two cozy armchairs that are good for reading and relaxing.”
Jessica, Children’s Specialist
“My favorite things about our space (besides all the great books), are the garden and train tables. The garden is a great spot to enjoy a book, watch the flowers blow in the breeze, and have a snack at one of the picnic tables. It’s so much fun to see kids and their grown ups explore the plants and insects that live in the garden. Sometimes they even help to water and weed the garden bed.
My other favorite thing about our space is the train tables! We’re a busy location and many children look forward to playing at the train tables. In the past, we had trouble finding a table that could hold up to our enthusiastic young patrons (toddler parents, you know what I’m talking about). Our new train tables (we have two!) feature a simple design and are very durable. They bring a lot of joy to the children here!”
Kathy, Children’s Librarian
“I especially like that we have so many outside groups offering programs at CLP – Squirrel Hill. Things like the Pittsburgh Origami Club and the Allderdice teen drop-in art events provide variety and fresh ideas for patrons.”
Kristen, Children’s Librarian
“I love our window seats looking out over Murray Avenue. My children and I have spent many hours tucked away in there, watching the cars drive by below us. Now that they’re older, my kids will come to visit me at work and, inevitably, they will end up curled up in a window seat, re-reading a favorite book.”
Megan, Library Service Manager, Children and Teen
“I really love our libraries for the storytimes. I loved going to the storytimes with my baby as a way to get out and meet other babies and families. My baby was always happier outside of the house and I was always happier outside as well. At Squirrel Hill, we also have a long line of windows that overlook the business district. It is a great place to read a book or people watch, and it’s one of my favorite spots to point out when I’m giving a tour.”
Another special thing about the storytimes at CLP – Squirrel Hill is that they have a separate space so that storytime can happen at the same time as children reading, playing or talking in the other part of the Children’s room. This is especially nice when a storytime might be great for babies and toddlers, but not really designed for older school age children.
So if you have a preschooler who loves train tables, or a toddler who is overflowing with energy and could use some outside playtime, or a school age child who likes to hang out in their own little space to read the latest Magic Tree House book, CLP – Squirrel Hill may be just right for you!
Enhancements to the Library’s Children’s spaces are made possible by generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share our vision for helping people learn, grow and transform their lives.
Korie is part of the Library’s Early Learning BLAST Outreach team. Her favorite children’s authors are Amy Krause Rosenthal, Kevin Henkes and Audrey and Don Wood. She enjoys occasional crafting, early morning runs and ‘80’s era fantasy films.